The drivers title might not have been wrapped up but there was still a party feel after somewhat of a surprise victory. Chris Fawcett gives you five talking points to take away from a memorable US Grand Prix in Texas as we head into the final three races of the season…
We have to start the assessment of the US Grand Prix talking about Kimi Raikkonen, it’s unavoidable.
He’d been on point all weekend long and when he made a move up the inside of Lewis Hamilton into turn 1 you knew he was in a fighting mood – that was his first overtake off the start line since Abu Dhabi 2016.
It was a risky strategy call by Ferrari to not pit him under the virtual safety car, a decision that looked like it might backfire horribly, however this was not to be and despite the best efforts of Max Verstappen in the closing laps, Kimi held on for his first victory since Australia 2013.
Something even more remarkable is that there has only been 7 different Grand Prix winners since Kimi last tasted the victor’s champagne (Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Valterri Bottas and Fernando Alonso) such is the modern day dominance of one or two teams.
It was a richly deserved win from one of the sport’s most likeable and unique characters. Possibly his last too, with a move to Sauber for 2019 onwards, it’d take a minor miracle to see him on the top step of the podium after leaving Ferrari. Thank you Kimi!
You spin me right round baby, right round…
While one Ferrari was driving off into the distance, another was dancing on ice, or so it seems. Whatever downforce/suspension setting Sebastian Vettel utilises on race days, it is not cut out for wheel to wheel combat, especially against a Red Bull.
Once again he found himself 180 degrees around the wrong way on the very first lap…I alluded to it after Japan that it’s almost as if Vettel is a magnet for trouble. I’m even more convinced now, surely he hasn’t lost the ability to race closely with another top-rated driver?
Barring something rather unexpected, Lewis Hamilton will wrap the title up in Mexico with two races spare. It’s because of these careless excursions that Sebastian Vettel isn’t still in with a chance at the drivers championship.
The cars sounded “different”
There was a spot of light humour during the race as one excitable fan (or Ted Kravitz) found a microphone picking up the track atmosphere. He/she then preceded to do their best impression of a car flying past. It went something like this:
Quite frankly, it was hilarious to listen to and became an internet sensation instantly, it even had the commentary team confused and trying their best not to crack up during the broadcast.
I don’t recall anything like this happening before, not for an extended period of a few laps anyway. The production team must have been scratching their heads collectively, possibly after having a good giggle themselves.
It was another story of Max Verstappen racing through the field from the back while Daniel Ricciardo limps to a halt, a common theme of recent races.
It begs two questions; how impressive is the young Dutchman to be able to do that repeatedly? And where would Danny Ric have finished if he had a car capable of making it to the end?
Let’s not forget that Max was staring down the barrel of a race win, from 18th on the grid in a non-rain affected race and without a “true” safety car. That is pretty damn incredible pace and justifies his “future champion” credentials.
As for Honeybadger, I bet he can’t wait to leave – this season seems to be ending in a whimper.
More of this please F1!
The US Grand Prix was a thriller – the final 10-15 laps, having the top 3 drivers within 3 or 4 seconds made the end of the race super tense as we waited to see how they’d finish on the podium. The combination of Kimi leading a charging Verstappen on old tyres and an eager Hamilton in turn chasing him and his 5th title gave us a great end to a fantastic grand prix. Time and time again we that F1 needs to be unpredictable and that’s exactly what this race delivered, more please!